How public service programmes can help empower women?

MUVA's Iana Barenboim discusses the conclusions from the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women

Last month, decision makers from the UN member states, UN entities, and representatives from the NGO and private sector attended the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Tasked with mainstreaming gender perspectives across UN activities, the Commission helps promote gender equality and empowerment of women.

The theme of this year’s event focused on the role of social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure to enhance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls around the world. Building on set of Background papers, participants discussed key lessons learnt in recent years for finding practical answers to address old challenges, such as the unequal burden of care, which is often undertaken by women, and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and gender-based violence.

Some of the highlights from the event included:

Photo from the WIEGO's side event on policy coherence for the empowerment of women in informal employment

Sharing practical experience from Mozambique

We came to CSW to explore the role of social protection in addressing life-cycle risks, increasing access to services, and promoting women and girls’ economic empowerment, voice, and agency – aligned with the SPIAC-B Joint Statement. We also took this opportunity to highlight some of the recent learnings from our MUVA programme, which aims to increase female economic empowerment for vulnerable young women in urban areas in Maputo, Mozambique.

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The Government of Mozambique recognizes the importance of social protection systems for helping vulnerable populations, especially women, to withstand unexpected socio-economic shocks and graduate out of poverty. In a session on Transformative gender responsive social protection for rural and urban realities: experiences from Mozambique, we joined the Mozambican Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Hon. Cidália Oliveira, to share our work on gender-sensitive public works (see our framework), focusing in particular on MUVA Assistentes. This programme is helping to create job opportunities for vulnerable women in delivering public services – placing them as assistant teachers in overcrowded primary schools, where they help support the teachers and gain first-hand experiences working in the education sector.

MUVA’s project manager Shaista de Araujo sharing her experiences from the programme

Preliminary findings from MUVA Assistentes suggest that the approach has had positive impact on beneficiaries, who have acquired valuable skills that help them to enter the labour market and graduate out of poverty. Thus, as beneficiaries of a regular income they have for the first time the ability to make financial plans and start saving. In addition, evidence suggests that having a recognised and valued role in the community has had significant positive impacts both on the young women themselves, as well as their community. Another cycle is being implemented this year and more data will be coming out soon.

For further information, UN Women released an unedited version of the agreed conclusions of this 63rd session of CSW.

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